“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’. ” John 4:12-14
Victor Krutko came to Moody Bible Institute from Minsk, a town in Belarus. This gifted, passionate pastor and I have become good friends. I’ll never forget an episode with him as we were traveling through Belarus visiting some of his work. God had used him to start a Bible school and seminary in his home country, and his influence had sparked the planting of more than 100 churches in the region. But the most special moment of the trip came when we went to visit Victor’s mom.
Our trip to meet this dear woman took us 40 miles outside of Minsk, down a rutted track with weeds sprouting up in the middle of the lane. Passing ramshackle shanties as we entered this backwater village, we pulled up in front of one of the shanties to be greeted by a beaming, ruddy-faced woman in her late 70s—Victor’s mother! With a babushka scarf wrapped around her head, she bustled us inside saying, “Come in, come in!”
We picked our way past the outhouse and through a meager garden. I pointed out the pig to Victor, and he said, “Oh yes, she raises the pig in the summer and eats it in the winter.” The vegetables from the garden were her only other means of sustenance.
Inside the two-room shanty was a kitchen featuring a little table. A sheet divided the other room into a bedroom and a sitting room. As Victor’s mom fed us cucumbers and tomatoes for lunch, she couldn’t stop beaming. Initially, I thought that her unbridled enthusiasm was because her boy, Victor, had come home. But it soon became apparent that her contagious joy was not just about Victor but also about another man in her life, Jesus! As Victor translated, all she could talk about was Jesus—how much she loved Him, how much He loved her, how much she couldn’t wait to get to heaven to see and be with Him. This woman, who had very few material possessions, had all that she needed because Jesus had clearly become a well of living water flowing in her heart.
This visit prompted a reality check in my heart about how addicted we are to the thought that having more in our material world is where joy is found. It’s not that we don’t want Jesus. It’s just that we act like He’s not enough. We’re really glad to have Jesus, but we feel that what we really need is a spiffier set of golf clubs, a newer car, a bigger home, or at the very least a new shirt or pair of shoes. It’s not that having those things is necessarily wrong; it’s just that believing that they will satisfy is a wrong thought.
Which reminds me of another woman. When Jesus sat down next to a Samaritan woman by a well, He initiated a conversation by discussing a material need: “Would you give me a drink?” Then, lovingly, He steered the conversation through territory that explored the many ways that this woman had tried to satisfy her own emptiness, including failed relationships, illicit pleasures, and empty religiosity. Then He made this staggering offer: If anyone comes to Him for satisfaction, they will find their deepest needs and longings met.
So, how about you? Instead of seeking to satisfy your life with stuff, will you turn your heart to Jesus and receive His eternally thirst-quenching, soul-satisfying gift of living water? If so, you will experience the deep, genuine joy that captured the heart of Victor’s mom and the woman at the well.
Try as you might, you can’t do any better than Jesus!
- Have you received the gift of Christ’s living water? If not, ask Him to come into your life today.
- Are you experiencing the satisfaction of Jesus’ living water, or do you find yourself seeking satisfaction in other possessions and pursuits?
- Victor’s mom was satisfied by Christ, because her heart, passions, and thoughts were set on Him. How can you focus your thoughts and desires on Him today?
Always make a distinction between God’s perfect will and His permissive will, which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives, that we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to these things allowed by His permissive will that enables us to come to the point of seeing His perfect will for us. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . .” (Romans 8:28)— to those who remain true to God’s perfect will— His calling in Christ Jesus. God’s permissive will is the testing He uses to reveal His true sons and daughters. We should not be spineless and automatically say, “Yes, it is the Lord’s will.” We don’t have to fight or wrestle with God, but we must wrestle before God with things. Beware of lazily giving up. Instead, put up a glorious fight and you will find yourself empowered with His strength.
Everyone is in the pursuit of happiness. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself!” But for most people, happiness is elusive. We say, “I will be happy when . . . .” Fill in the blank. When I have more money, when I get that promotion, when I get married, when I have kids, when the kids move out, when I retire, and so on and so forth. It’s no wonder so many people feel like they just can’t catch happiness.
In Psalm 100, however, King David lets us in on a little secret about happiness. He wrote: “Worship the LORD with gladness . . .” The Sages understand it this way: If you want to be happy, then worship the Lord.
Few things bring us greater joy than serving our Creator. When we are serving God, we are focused on what we can give and not on what we are lacking. We focus on what is good in our lives and not what is wrong. When we contribute to God’s world we feel good about who we are instead of upset about who we could or should have been. When we bring joy to others, we can’t help but light up with joy ourselves!
What’s more, serving the Lord is something that we can do anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances. In times of abundance, we can give. In times of scarcity, we can have faith. When things are easy, we can sing out praises to God. And when times are tough, we can call out to Him in prayer. In our homes or in our workplaces – there is always someone to help or God’s Word to share. The possibilities are endless.
We can always worship God, which means that we can always be happy. No matter what! We don’t have to pursue happiness. We just have to stop running away from it – and serve the Lord today!
Try this ancient advice and think of how you can serve the Lord today. How can you worship Him throughout the day? Dedicate just one day – or even better – one week, to give of yourself to God, to His children, and to His world. You will be happy you did!
When Jehovah said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all that Jehovah had sent him to declare. So Moses and Aaron gathered all the leaders of the Israelites, and Aaron repeated all the words which Jehovah had spoken to Moses. The people believed; and when they heard that Jehovah had remembered the Israelites and that he had seen their suffering, they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Then Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Jehovah, the God of Israel commands, ‘Let my people go that they may hold a feast in my honor in the wilderness.'” But Pharaoh said, “Who is Jehovah that I should obey his command to let Israel go? I do not know Jehovah, and I will not let Israel go.” They said, “The God of the Hebrews has appeared to us; let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may offer a sacrifice to Jehovah our God, that he may not attack us with pestilence or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt replied, “Moses and Aaron, why do you try to turn the people from their work? Go to your tasks!”
The same day Pharaoh gave this command to the taskmasters who were over the people: “You shall no longer give the people straw for making bricks as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you shall demand of them the same number of bricks that they have been making before; you shall not lessen the number at all, for they are lazy; that is why they cry out, ‘Let us go and offer a sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid upon the men, that they may be kept so busy that they will not pay attention to lying words.”
So the taskmasters who were over the people went out and said to them, “This is Pharaoh’s order, ‘I will no longer give you straw. Go yourselves, get straw wherever you can find it; but your work shall not be made less.'” So the people were scattered over all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters urged them on, saying, “You must finish your daily task just as when there was straw.” The overseers of the Israelites, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had put over them, were also beaten and asked, “Why have you not finished to-day as many bricks as yesterday?”
Then the overseers of the Israelites went to Pharaoh and said, “Why do you deal in this way with your servants? No straw is given to your servants, and yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks.’ See how your servants are beaten and how you wrong your people.” But he said, “You are lazy, you are lazy; therefore you say, ‘Let us go and offer a sacrifice to Jehovah.’ Now go and work, for no straw shall be given you; yet you must make the same number of bricks.”
Then Moses turned again to Jehovah and said, “Jehovah, why hast thou brought misfortune upon this people? Why is it that thou has sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name he has wronged this people, and thou hast done nothing at all to rescue thy people.”
Jehovah answered Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for compelled by a mighty power he shall surely let them go, and compelled by a mighty power he shall drive them out of his land.”
The very word “saint” has become, through man’s perverseness and wickedness, a word of reproach and contempt. But God will honour it, let men dishonour it as they please. God has put a crown of glory upon it, let men despise it as they may. There is no privilege or blessing that God can confer so great and glorious as to crown you with the crown of saint. He might have given you titles without number; he might have showered riches upon your head in the greatest profusion; rank, fame, talent, beauty, health, all might have been poured at your feet; but what would all these be compared to making you a saint of God? But what is it to be a saint? It is to be sanctified by God the Father, set apart for himself, to shew forth his praise. It is to be washed in the atoning blood and clothed in the justifying righteousness of the Son, and to be regenerated by the Spirit of God. It is to be introduced into a new world by being delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. What heart can conceive or tongue express the state of blessedness to which the despised saints of God are advanced even in this time state! They are sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty; jewels in Jesus’ mediatorial crown; members of his mystical body, and as such united to him by indissoluble ties; pillars in the temple of God which shall go no more out; sheep redeemed by precious blood; virgin souls espoused to the Lord the Lamb. They are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, and mansions of glory are prepared for them beyond the skies. There they shall sit as overcomers with Christ on his throne, and there they shall sing upon harps of gold the praises of a Three-One God to all eternity.